George W. Bush Is Intervening in Iraq—Again

 

When Iraqi tribal leaders came to D.C. looking for help against ISIL, the White House refused. Then the former president made a call.

By MARK PERRY
February 12, 2015

Late in the evening of Sunday, January 18, an eleven-member delegation of tribal leaders from Iraq’s western Anbar Province arrived in Washington, D.C. Just as their plane was touching down, Islamic State units back in Iraq attacked the compound of one of the delegation’s senior leaders, Sheik Ahmed Abu Risha, killing nine Iraqi police officers and wounding 28 of the sheik’s guards. A nearby Iraqi military unit failed to respond to repeated calls for help.

The brutal attack underscored the purpose of the Anbar delegation’s visit: The tribal leaders believed that they could defeat the Islamic State—but only if the Obama administration would agree to ship them weapons directly, bypassing Iraq’s untrustworthy Ministry of Defense.

Yet after they arrived in Washington the tribal leaders found themselves thwarted at every turn in their efforts to meet with high-level administration officials. They were told they would have to take up these matters with new Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and would have to rely for weapons on those provided to them by Abadi’s ministry of defense.

That’s when George W. Bush called Abu Risha at his hotel in Washington.
It’s startling enough for a Sunni tribal leader to get a call from a former U.S. president—and even more so from Bush, who has been especially reluctant to interfere in world affairs since leaving office. But Iraq, after all, was Bush’s baby. He knew about the tribesmen’s difficulties as Islamic State fighters continued to make inroads against the Iraqi military, and he had been alerted to the delegation’s visit in Washington by his contacts in the U.S. policymaking community.

Abu Risha, the president of the powerful Anbar Awakening Council, said Bush listened carefully as the sheik explained in a 20-minute conversation that the Anbar tribesmen were unlikely to get any weapons from the Iraqi government, which, as Abu Risha claimed, is notoriously corrupt, beholden to Tehran and more interested in arming Shia militias than Sunni tribesmen. Bush urged Abu Risha to extend his stay and meet with retired Gen. David Petraeus, as well as with Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham. According to Abu Risha, Bush pledged that he would “do everything I can” to help him get a hearing in Washington.

***

Iraq’s Sunni Anbar tribesmen comprise a minority in Iraq, but have historically had an outsized influence in its government. That influence ended with the 2003 U.S. invasion, which empowered Iraq’s majority Shia population. Anbar’s Sunnis fought back—mounting a bloody insurgency against U.S. forces, allowing al Qaeda to recruit fighters from Anbar’s disaffected population. But al Qaeda overplayed its hand, imposing their harsh vision of Islam on Anbar’s population. So, beginning in mid-2004, the province’s tribal leaders began to shift their allegiance away from al Qaeda, choosing instead to force the terrorist group out of the region. The United States supported this so-called Anbar Awakening with arms and ammunition.

But following the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, the Shia-controlled Iraqi government marginalized Anbar’s tribes, providing an opening for the Islamic State, which represented an even more virulent form of jihadism than appeared in Anbar in 2003, to advance. America’s response has been to pressure Abadi’s Baghdad government to support the tribes. The support has not arrived, and, worse yet, the Shia-controlled Baghdad government has ensured that weapons are funneled to Iraq’s Shia militias, many of which are under the sway of Iran and are cleansing Sunni influence in areas of eastern Iraq. The result is that, in Anbar, the Islamic State has gotten stronger, while the tribes remain weak.

The Anbar delegation that arrived in Washington on January 18 hoped to reverse this policy, arguing that the United States should bypass the Baghdad government in arming the tribes against ISIL as they had once done against al Qaeda. Doing so, they believed, would spark an Anbar “Re-Awakening.”

The delegation, which in addition to Abu Risha included Anbar Gov. Sohaib al-Rawi, Haditha Mayor Abdalhakeem al-Jughaifi and Anbar Provincial Council Chairman Sabah Karhout, had high hopes at first. Their 10-day schedule included a meeting with a White House aide and a visit to retired Gen. John Allen (Obama’s emissary to the coalition fighting the Islamic State) at his home, as well as one-on-one meetings at the State Department and Pentagon. They arrived confident that they would be heard; after all, the Obama administration had made the fight against the Islamic State a priority and Allen had promised during meetings with Sunni tribesmen in October in Amman, Jordan, to pass their request for arms on to the Pentagon.

But as their meetings in Washington went on, their hopes started to fade.
“There were a lot of smiles, a lot of nodding heads, but that was it,” one of the delegation’s members told me. “It’s clear the administration has made up its mind. Abadi’s their man, and that’s that.” Another delegation member agreed, but was even more outspoken. “We appreciate the meetings we had, they were fine,” he said, “but it’s obvious that U.S. officials were going through the motions. I wouldn’t call it the ‘cold shoulder,’ but it certainly was a cool one.”

No one was going through the motions more than Vice President Joe Biden, according to several of the Anbar delegates. Biden surprised the delegation on the afternoon of January 22 by dropping in on their White House meeting with Phil Gordon, the administration’s coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf Region. The voluble Biden was at his best, smiling broadly and accompanying his handshake with his patented shoulder grip. Biden reassured the delegation that Abadi’s government was working hard to restructure Iraq’s military, and he urged them to cooperate with him. “The Vice President encouraged the delegates to continue to work constructively with Prime Minister Abadi and the Iraqi government . . .” a “read out” from the Vice President’s office concluded.

On the record, Anbar’s delegates said they were pleased by Biden’s visit. (“We’re honored that vice president took the time to see us,” Abu Risha told me.) But off the record they were bitterly disappointed. “We’re interested in fighting ISIL [Islamic State] and the administration is interested in restructuring the Iraqi government,” a delegation member said. “In the meantime, ISIL is killing our people.” (The vice president’s office did not respond to repeated requests for comment on the meeting.)
That view was reinforced when delegation members met at the Pentagon with Elissa Slotkin, the Defense Department’s principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs. The delegation had hoped to press their case with officers of the U.S. Central Command, but had been told to meet with Slotkin instead. While Slotkin had spent 20 months in Iraq, she has consistently raised the ire of Sen. John McCain for her testimony on U.S. policy in the Middle East, which included a nasty exchange in December, when Slotkin told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the administration’s “strategy” in Iraq and Syria was to “defeat ISIL.” McCain couldn’t believe it. “That’s a goal, not a strategy,” he sputtered. “I want to know what the strategy is.”

Slotkin fared no better with Abu Risha’s Anbar delegation. “She basically reiterated Biden’s point,” a delegation member said in describing the meeting, “and seemed to have a lot of faith in Abadi. She knows Iraq, and we were pleased with that. But we were hoping to get someone in uniform—someone who can make a decision.”

The meetings with Biden and Slotkin reinforced what many in the delegation suspected: Despite the administration’s vow to defeat ISIL, the United States places a greater priority on its nuclear negotiations with Iran, and the administration was leery of upsetting the Shiite Iranian leadership by arming the Sunni Anbar tribes. In effect, Anbar’s leaders believe, the U.S. refusal to arm Anbar’s tribes directly means turning a blind eye to Tehran’s growing influence in Iraq and Iran’s policy of arming of Iraq’s Shia militias. “The only promise we got was what we’ve heard before, that the United States would do everything it could to oversee and ensure the accelerated delivery of U.S. weapons to us,” Abu Risha told me.

As one Anbar leader said: “The truth is that our Ministry of Defense is owned lock, stock and barrel by Tehran—and Joe Biden knows it. So he smiled, patted us on the back, and sent us on our way.” That was just days after ISIL militants had attacked Abu Risha’s Ramadi compound.

To Abu Risha, the Islamic State attack on his compound “symbolized what every Sunni in Anbar faces every day. … We can’t depend on the Iraqi army for anything.” As if to emphasize his point, Abu Risha reached down for his cell phone, then shoved it across the table at me. “You know who this is?” he asked. There, the sheik had downloaded a photo showing Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani hugging Iraqi Badr Organization leader Hadi al-Amiri. Soleimani is notorious in the United States as the mastermind behind Iran’s control of Iraq’s Shia militias and is designated a terrorist by the U.S. State Department, while Amiri’s Badr Organization controls one of Iraq’s most effective, and Shia controlled, militias. Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, who has just taken office, has proven thus far too weak (or too unwilling) to stand up to Tehran.“This isn’t exactly a secret,” Abu Risha said, tapping his telephone. “This picture is all over Iraq.” For one of Abu Risha’s colleagues, the message of the photo was unmistakable. “Our country is being turned over to the Iranians,” he said, as Abu Risha sat, in silent agreement, “and the Americans are looking the other way.”

“We’re frustrated, we’re angry and we’re facing a disaster,” Anbar Governor Sohaib al-Rawi told me the evening before his flight back to Iraq. “We can defeat ISIS if we can get the weapons we need, but that’s not happening. The White House doesn’t seem to understand—if we have to depend on the Iraqi government we’re going to lose.”
It was on this pessimistic note that most of Anbar’s tribal leaders returned home on January 29, their frustrating visit at an end—leaving Sheik Abu Risha several more days to make his case to the administration. It seemed like a hopeless task.

But then, on the morning of January 31, the sheik received his unexpected telephone call from Bush. “I hadn’t expected to hear from the former president,” Abu Risha told me the afternoon after the phone call, “but we had a very detailed discussion. I told him what we needed, that this was a crisis. He listened closely to what I had to say and he agreed—more people needed to hear our message.” The sheik then recounted to me Bush’s September 2007 visit to Anbar, when the then-president met with his brother, Sheik Abdul Sattar, whose leadership had sparked the Anbar Awakening that had united the Anbar tribes in their victorious fight against al Qaeda in 2006 and early 2007. Abdul Sattar paid a heavy price for the meeting:Just 10 days after seeing Bush, al Qaeda planted a bomb in his car, and he was killed in the explosion. Bush remembered this in his conversation with the sheik. “The president hadn’t forgotten my brother’s sacrifice,” Abu Risha told me. (A Bush spokesman told me the former president never comments on private calls.)

Not surprisingly, the Bush telephone call resulted in a quiet meeting between the sheik and Petraeus (“I can’t and won’t talk about that meeting,” Abu Risha told me) and then, on the evening of February 5, with Senators McCain and Graham at McCain’s office on Capitol Hill. McCain’s office confirmed his meeting with Sheik Abu Risha, but would not characterize its contents. The result of these exchanges—the Bush telephone call and the meetings with Petraeus, McCain and Graham—seemed to confirm for Abu Risha that while the administration was committed to defeating the Islamic State, its opposition to arming the tribes by bypassing the Abadi government reflected its fears that to do so would offend Tehran—and endanger the P5+1 talks on Iran’s nuclear program.

A large number of former U.S. commanders who worked with Anbar’s tribes during the Awakening agree. “Here we are, trying to reinvent the wheel, when we have people in Anbar we know who will fight for us,” retired Marine Col. John Coleman told me on the morning following Abu Risha’s meeting with McCain and Graham. Coincidentally, Coleman (who played a crucial role in shaping the earliest days of the Anbar Awakening as Chief of Staff to General James Conway, the head of I Marine Expeditionary Force in Iraq in 2004 and 2005) was meeting with members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs just as Abu Risha was talking with McCain and Graham in McCain’s office. Coleman was just as frustrated, repeating his former commander’s judgment that Obama’s anti-ISIL strategy “doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell” of succeeding.

“I’m not going to question this administration’s policy,” Coleman told me in a wide ranging telephone discussion following his Capitol Hill meetings. “But I think we need to recognize what Iran is doing. They’re supporting Shia militias that are cleansing Sunni areas along their border, and they’re holding up weapons resupply in Anbar. And we’re letting them get away with it.”Coleman, who was aware of the visit of Abu Risha’s Anbar delegation to Washington, says he supports the sheik’s position, and also believes the United States should “rebuild our country’s alliance” with those Anbar tribes that he and the Marines supported in the Awakening’s earliest days.

“There are people out there [in Anbar] who will help us; they’ve shown us what they can do. They stood toe-to-toe with al Qaeda and won. We have to remember that the real turnaround in Iraq was the [Anbar] Awakening, not the surge,” he says, “and that we can and should build on that.” Coleman, who is supported by a tightly knit group of Marine veterans who opened Anbar in 2004 and 2005, says that a separate delegation of Anbar leaders plans to meet with administration officials next week. Included in this group, according to a memorandum circulated among Coleman’s supporters, are members of Anbar’s Dulaimi tribe as well as sheiks representing Ramadi, Fallujah and western Iraq. The paper argues that the United States should “reconstitute” the Iraqi National Guard in Anbar, which would “signal to Tehran that their hold over Prime Minister Abadi is over.”

For now, Abu Risha says, he and his colleagues will have to be satisfied with what the White House promised him during his visit—that U.S. military personnel will oversee and ensure the accelerated delivery of U.S. weapons to Anbar—while hoping that his meetings with Gen. Petraeus and Sens. McCain and Graham will provide the political pressure to guarantee that that promise is kept. “I hope that works, I hope the White House keeps its promise,” Abu Risha says. “But if they don’t, I’ll be back here to try again.” He then shakes his head and shows a wan smile. “If I’m still alive.”

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/02/george-w-bush-iraq-anbar-115155.html#ixzz3RfLIEuvp

PM Haider Al-Abadi (Facebook)

Prime Minister General Commander of the Armed Forces, Dr. Haider Abadi meet today under the leadership of joint operations and briefed on developments in the security situation in the country and the war being waged against our heroine Daash terrorist gangs and continue fighting the terrorist organization Daash in Baiji, axes and al-Baghdadi and Anbar.

Haider Al-Abadi's photo.
Haider Al-Abadi's photo.
Haider Al-Abadi's photo.

After he refused to attend the call Spaaeker ..hanan Fatlawi conference describing al-Maliki as “traitor”

After he refused to attend the call Spaaeker ..hanan Fatlawi conference describing al-Maliki as "traitor"

BAGHDAD – ((eighth day))

Described Head will block Hanan al, vice president and leader of a coalition of law Nuri al-Maliki a traitor for not attending the victims of Spyker conference in Baghdad.

Fatlawi said at a meeting with the bloc, which seen by ((eighth day)) that “the failure to meet the call by al-Maliki to attend the conference with the victims of Spyker is treason to me and the blood that began in the massacre of Spyker.

She said, was better Maliki attendance to the conference hall to already understand what happened to the families of the victims, but he does not possess the courage Facing.

The MP Hanan al has held with victims Spyker conference at the Rashid Hotel, who fled from most politicians, led by House Speaker Salim al. (AA)

https://translate.google.com/translate?depth=1&hl=en&ie=UTF8&prev=_t&rurl=translate.google.com&sl=ar&tl=en&u=http://8th-day.com/%3Fp%3D95743

Saleh: 1.5 million workers in the private sector

2/12/2015

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    Published on Thursday February 12, 2015 05:01

BAGHDAD / Center Brief for the Iraqi Media Network – (IMN) the appearance of Mohammed Saleh said adviser to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi for Economic Affairs, on Thursday, that there are 1.5 million workers in various areas of the private sector, pointing out that the private sector is still below the level of ambition.

Saleh added for (IMN), “The total number of workers in the private industrial, agricultural and commercial sector up to about 1.5 million workers, mostly ineffective because of the obstacles facing the advancement of the private sector in the country.”

Saleh pointed out that “the agricultural sector now accounts for only 6% of the total GDP, while the labor force in the agricultural sector accounts for about 20% of the work force in the private sector across the country.”

The previous parliament approved the customs tariff and the protection of the national product and consumer protection laws, but did not apply during the last period due to lack of readiness of infrastructure at border crossing points to the application of laws.

And provides new customs tariff law passed by the House of Representatives to repeal the tariff code number (77) for the year 1955, and ordered the Coalition Provisional Authority (dissolved) No. (54) for the year 2004 (trade liberalization policy of 2004), and ordered coalition No. 38 Authority for the year 2003 ( the reconstruction of Iraq and its amendments) tax.

From: Haider al-Tamimi Open: Muhammad Saleem
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Iraq must unite to overcome ISIS

2/12/2015

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Article Discussed by LJ on the Conf Call Thur Feb 12, 2015

Iraq must unite to overcome ISIS

Samira Shackle
Wednesday, 04 February 2015 12:34

When the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) seized control of huge swathes of Iraq last summer, it was hoped that this grave threat to the country’s security might lead to Iraq’s sectarian tensions being put aside, at least temporarily. It was not so. As Iraq’s second city of Mosul fell to militants and Iraqi soldiers fled their posts in the face of the ISIS onslaught, parliament remained in a post-election deadlock, unable to agree a government even during such a pressing crisis. Some commentators spoke of the break-up of Iraq into Kurdish, Shia and Sunni regions as the most likely outcome.

Now, months later, the immediate political deadlock is a thing of the past, but the same problems are rumbling on, and are impacting the fight against ISIS. The latest disagreement is over the make-up of a new Sunni fighting force, the National Guard.

The US has repeatedly advocated the establishment of such a force, which would be an alternative to the regular Shia-dominated military and would be answerable to the provincial governments in the north and west of Iraq, and then to the prime minister. It is hoped that such a force would empower Sunni communities, who distrust the army and national police, accusing them of persecuting their communities with indiscriminate arrests.

After dictator Saddam Hussein was removed from power in 2003 and Shia majority rule was restored, Sunnis have claimed that they have been unfairly victimised with anti-terror laws and by the ban on former members of Saddam’s Baath Party participating in politics.

The need for a force like the National Guard is clearly pressing. Large sections of the Sunni-dominated provinces in the west and north of the country, including Mosul have been seized by ISIS. The deep distrust between local Sunni populations and the Iraqi army means that there is very poor communication and coordination in these areas.

Local Shia militias are supported by the government, as is the Kurdish peshmerga, but the Sunni population is underrepresented on the frontline. These Shia and Kurdish forces view Sunnis with suspicion, as they belong to the same religious sect as ISIS fighters. There are risks of this creating a vicious cycle: a generalised response against all Sunnis by Kurds and Shias will surely lead to more Sunnis being radicalised. The National Guard was planned to emulate the Sahwa troops of Sunni fighters established by the US in 2006 to fight Al-Qaeda.

But, according to Iraqi parliamentarians, disagreements between political factions mean that plans for the National Guard are likely to be delayed or cancelled. Sunni political and tribal leaders have painted the law as a way for their communities to take charge of their own security in battling ISIS. But some Sunni MPs have told the media that other MPs, acting on sectarian motives, are attempting to derail the plans so that they can retain their domination of the security forces.

A second law, which would end the ban on former Baath Party members taking part in public life, has also faltered. Sunni MPs do not believe it would go far enough. According to an Al-Jazeera report, some Kurdish and Shia lawmakers are afraid that the formation of the National Guard could be the beginning of a larger Sunni insurgent force that could threaten Shia provinces and the Kurdish region. There is reportedly some concern that this could lead to the formation of a separate Sunni region after ISIS is driven out.

Clearly, it is a difficult balancing act for the government in Iraq, with meaningful progress hampered by mutual suspicion on all sides. Fears about the break-up of the country are nothing new. The country is riven by sectarian divisions, which were exploited and exacerbated by Saddam as a way to cement his power. The scars of the bitter sectarian civil war that followed the US invasion are still strongly present in the national consciousness.

Any partition of the country would result in fighting over natural resources like oil and the control of mixed areas like Kirkuk. It would likely result in a huge loss of life and influx of refugees. It is not a solution that most people would like to see, but if it is to be avoided, it is clearly of paramount importance that Sunnis are brought into the political process in a more meaningful way, and that communities attempt to work together against the common threat of ISIS – both at the frontline, and in the halls of power.  source

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President Barzani: the Kurds are now many friends

[18:46] 15 / Feb / 13

Erbil, February 13 (PNA) – met on Friday, President of the Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani, Austrian President Heinz Fischer, in the framework of a diplomatic tour of a number of European capitals.
He described President Barzani, in a statement to the media network Roudao, meeting with Austrian President as “positive”, adding that “the Austrian side briefed on the latest developments on the Iraqi and Kurdish arenas.”

He said President Barzani: “Most of the leaders who have visited them, they stressed their willingness to support the Peshmerga forces, and expressed their admiration trophies achieved by the Kurds in their battle with al Daash”, past, saying: “for the Kurds now many friends.”

The head of the region in response to a question regarding the possibility of filing Austria Peshmerga military aid, that “the Austrian laws differ from the laws of other countries,” referring to “the Austrian side’s commitment to providing humanitarian aid to the region.”

President Barzani went on the sixth of February will be to Germany, to participate in the Munich Conference on Security and world peace, where he met with German Chancellor Onگala Merkel, and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, and US Vice President Joe Biden, in addition to a number of officials and leaders, and visited France in the tenth of February, where he met with French President Francois Olond.

– See more at: http://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?depth=1&hl=en&prev=search&rurl=translate.google.com&sl=ar&u=http://www.peyamner.com/Arabic/PNAnews.aspx%3FID%3D355253&usg=ALkJrhifLgctDVA8F2fEQiVhWEUcx8Fpcg#sthash.LxrJ8FPw.dpuf

Oil at $ 35 very soon

Submitted by Big Sekz-

12/02/2015 14:27

BAGHDAD / Obelisk: Expect Economic Fahd bin Juma writer Oil falls to $ 35 minimum, and not, as predicted City Bank report that prices come down again to $ 20 a barrel.

Bin Juma said in an interview with Channel “Arab” The demand is weak and stocks confluent and therefore the US crude oil below $ 50, and this is a reflection of several factors, most notably the inventory glut.

 He denied that the predictions that supplies fell slightly during the last period, stressing that the slight incline in the last few weeks is purely speculative movement led to this increase, there is no shortage of supplies from OPEC and outside OPEC.

Bin Juma said that all OPEC members are producing at full production capacity while Saudi Arabia it has a spare capacity of more than 3 million barrels per day, which benefit them in the market adjust. He believed that the strategic objectives of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia differed because you want to maintain market share, so says Saudi Arabia and other countries outside OPEC If you want to price rises upon you adjust production.

 He reiterated the unwillingness of the Kingdom in the loss of market share, then you lose the market and after losing the high-cost prices when a competitor of Saudi oil in a future phase of the oil becomes Vtkon lost twice.

http://almasalah.com/ar/news/47234/%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%86%D9%81%D8%B7-%D8%A5%D9%84%D9%89-35-%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%A7-%D9%82%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A8%D8%A7-%D8%AC%D8%AF%D8%A7

Deputy: the banking system advanced and accurate

Submitted by Big Sekz-

02/13/2015 08:57

BAGHDAD / Obelisk: Vice Chairman of the Committee on Economy and Investment Parliament MP Harith Chanchal, said on Thursday that the country’s banking system, “a sophisticated, accurate and works very efficiently.”

The deputy chairman of the Committee on the economy and investment representative, MP Harith Chanchal, “The banking system in the country is a sophisticated and precise, and the significant efficiencies, which is very successful, especially the Iraqi Central Bank and the Rafidain and Rasheed Bank of the economy, which facilitates the sale and domestic procurement and external handle operations, through the oil sinks and global agreements among themselves. “

Chanchal said that “the development of a strategy for the Iraqi economy inevitably benefit and fits the reality of the country.”

Held Thursday in Baghdad, under the patronage of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, ministers and ambassadors, MPs and economists and international organizations Declaration Conference private sector development strategy.

http://almasalah.com/ar/news/47279/%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%A6%D8%A8-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%86%D8%B8%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%B5%D8%B1%D9%81%D9%8A-%D9%85%D8%AA%D8%B7%D9%88%D8%B1-%D9%88%D8%AF%D9%82%D9%8A%D9%82